PORTLAND, Ore. — A fatal shooting during a night of political conflict in Portland, Ore., has yet again escalated tensions in the city and further inflamed the issues of crime, protest and race that President Trump is trying to make a focus of presidential politics.
A man affiliated with a right-wing group was shot and killed on Saturday as a large group of supporters of President Trump traveled in a caravan through downtown Portland, Ore., which has seen nightly protests for three consecutive months.
The pro-Trump rally drew hundreds of trucks full of supporters into the city. At times, Trump supporters and counterprotesters clashed on the streets, with people shooting paintball guns from the beds of pickup trucks and protesters throwing objects back at them.
Coming on the heels of the fatal shooting of two protesters and the wounding of a third in Kenosha, Wis., Tuesday night, the incident was an ominous sign amid an escalation of weaponry and of rhetoric as protests of police violence and presidential politics merge.
Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, on Sunday left open the potential to surge federal law enforcement to quell unrest in Portland.
During an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Wolf said “all options continue to be on the table” to deploy more federal agents to Portland despite the strong opposition of local leaders who say such tactical teams have only heightened tension in the protests.
Mayor Ted Wheeler said the shooting left his heart heavy, and he denounced violence. But he pointed to the combative and unyielding rhetoric of President Trump as a generator of the nation’s escalating polarization and violence. In a news conference, he called on the president to work with him and others to help de-escalate tensions.
“We need to reset. The president needs to reset. I need to reset. This community needs to reset. And America needs to reset,” the mayor said. “It’s going to take his leadership in the White House. And it’s going to take my leadership here in City Hall.”
But President Trump appeared to respond live on Twitter to the mayor’s remarks, mocking Mr. Wheeler and calling him “wacky” and a “dummy.”
“He would like to blame me and the Federal Government for going in, but he hasn’t seen anything yet,” Mr. Trump wrote.
A video that purports to be of the Saturday night shooting in Portland, taken from the far side of the street, showed a small group of people in the road outside what appears to be a parking garage. Gunfire erupts, and a man collapses in the street.
The man who was shot and killed was wearing a hat with the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a far-right group based in the Portland area that has clashed with protesters in the past. Joey Gibson, the head of the group, said Sunday he could not share many details but could confirm the man was a good friend and supporter of Patriot Prayer.
The Portland Police Bureau said that officers heard reports of gunfire shortly before 9 p.m. and found a victim with a gunshot wound to the chest. It was determined that the victim had died. They did not release any information about a possible gunman.
“This violence is completely unacceptable, and we are working diligently to find and apprehend the individual or individuals responsible,” Chief Chuck Lovell said early Sunday.
Mr. Trump reiterated his call that the National Guard should be brought in to Portland, saying people want law and order.
“They want Safety & Security, and do NOT want to Defund our Police!” Mr. Trump tweeted on Sunday.
At the scene Saturday night, police officers blocked off the road and medics attended to a person who appeared to have a chest wound.
The shooting capped a volatile week in the United States that began when the police in Kenosha, Wis., repeatedly shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, prompting new protests against racism and police brutality that included the cancellation of professional sports games.
During the unrest after the shooting of Mr. Blake, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old Illinois resident, was charged in connection with the fatal shootings of two protesters.
Portland has seen nightly demonstrations since the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis in May, some of which have included crowds smashing windows, lighting fires and throwing fireworks at law enforcement. In recent days, right-wing demonstrations have also sprung up in the city, and Mr. Trump has repeatedly highlighted the unrest in Portland as evidence of the need for a tougher law-and-order response to the chaotic protests over police violence and racial injustice that have swept through many American cities.
Two weeks ago, one right-wing demonstrator fired two gunshots from his vehicle, the authorities have said, although it doesn’t appear anyone was struck by the bullets. The next weekend, opposing groups openly fought in the streets and video showed one right-wing demonstrator brandishing a gun.
Patriot Prayer, a local group that says it promotes Christianity and smaller government, has repeatedly clashed with activists in Portland. The group has at times operated alongside militia groups, and the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported that some Patriot Prayer events have drawn white supremacists. Last year, Mr. Gibson, the group’s leader, was charged along with others with rioting after a brawl in the city.
The Trump supporters gathered earlier Saturday in the suburbs and plotted a route for the several hundred vehicles involved in the event that would have kept them on the highways outside the city center. But some of the ralliers headed directly downtown, where counterprotesters confronted a number of the vehicles. Some of the conflicts led to fistfights. In one encounter, someone drove over a bike, drawing the police to the scene.
While protests in Portland have persisted, their numbers have changed over time. The nightly events began with mass demonstrations after Mr. Floyd’s death, then shrank to smaller numbers of people who repeatedly clashed with the police. In July, when the federal government sent camouflaged agents into the city, the protest numbers grew drastically once again.
In more recent days, the protest crowd has typically numbered just a few hundred people. On Friday, after a peaceful demonstration in front of Mayor Ted Wheeler’s residence, a crowd went out to a police association building, where some of the protesters set fire to the front of the building before the police dispersed the crowd.
The police have made dozens of arrests in recent days as they have chased protesters through the streets, at times knocking them to the ground. The police said they made 10 arrests Saturday night, although it was not immediately clear how many were participants in the pro-Trump rally and how many were countering the event.
Chief Lovell said on Sunday that one challenge with the continuing conflict is that there are sometimes not enough officers to keep various groups separated enough to avoid conflict.
“We can’t be everywhere at once,” Chief Lovell said.
Chief Lovell said the city’s officers need additional resources and he is working with the Oregon State Police. He said it may get to the point where the city needs support from the National Guard.
Mr. Trump retweeted a video showing his supporters shooting paintballs and using pepper spray on crowds in Portland before the fatal shooting. He seemed to condone it, saying the “big backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected.”
“The people of Portland won’t put up with no safety any longer,” Mr. Trump wrote.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly focused on the unrest in Portland, including during the Republican National Convention last week, challenging the city’s leaders to end the chaos. Mr. Trump said in a tweet on Friday that the federal government would go into the city if the mayor was unable to maintain control.
Mr. Wheeler in a letter on Friday asked Mr. Trump to stay away, saying the earlier federal presence had made things worse. “Your offer to repeat that disaster is a cynical attempt to stoke fear and distract us from the real work of our city,” he wrote.